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Time Machine: Falcons' First Division Title Ran Through D.C.


The Birds head to Washington with two straight wins under their belt in this series after capturing a 31-17 contest in 2009 in Atlanta under Mike Smith and a 24-14 victory on the road in 2006.

The Falcons were in the midst of trying to claim their first division crown in team history on November 30, 1980 when they faced the Redskins in a Week 13 encounter.

Despite boasting one of the league's top offenses, it was Atlanta's staunch defense that ruled the afternoon.

The Falcons defense started strong in the first half by holding the Redskins to just a 51-yard field goal by K Mark Moseley in the second quarter. The Birds gained the upper hand with a 14-yard pass from QB Steve Bartkowski to WR Alfred Jenkins in the third quarter and added a K Tim Mazzetti 23-yard field goal in the early part of the fourth stanza for a slim 10-3 advantage.

The Skins appeared to take the lead late in the game, but a 24-yard touchdown pass was negated due to a penalty and the stingy Falcons defense only surrendered a field goal to keep the lead.

Seven straight runs by William Andrews on the next possession, including a 33-yard burst off left tackle, enabled the Birds to run out the clock and secure a close 10-6 victory.

But it was a gritty Falcons defense that stole the show and saved the day with names like LB Fulton "Captain Crazy" Kuykendall (13 tackles), DT Jeff Yeates (7 stops), DE Don Smith (6 tackles, 1 sack), LB Buddy Curry (pictured above; 13 stops, 1 interception) and S Bob Glazebrook (7 tackles) leading the way holding the Skins to a mere 193 total yards of offense.

That 1980 defensive unit kept Atlanta on track that day and in first place in the NFC West with their seventh straight victory and 10th win overall as the calendar turned towards December and the stretch run. A few weeks later, the Falcons would earn their first-ever division title with a then team-best 12-4 record. (Smith's troops would later break that mark with a 13-3 showing in 2010.)

These current Redskins have lost seven straight home games, dating back to 2011, and the Falcons hope to add to their misery on Sunday in the nation's capital and claim history with their club record fifth straight victory to start the season.

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